News

Insurance commissioner releases details of options

(Salem) — Insurance Commissioner Laura Cali today provided guidance to insurance companies about the option to extend commercial individual and small employer plans that do not meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act. The guidance issued today lays out timelines and customer notification requirements.

Customers choosing to stay on an existing plan will not qualify for financial help available through Cover Oregon.

Companies must notify the Insurance Division by Friday, Nov. 22, 2013 of their plans to extend noncompliant plans. The Insurance Division will post a list of companies offering the option to extend on its website by 5 p.m. Friday.

Companies that choose to extend the plans must notify their members by Nov. 29, 2013.

Carriers can extend the noncompliant plans for three months to March 31, 2014, or for one year to Dec. 31, 2014.

Extension of noncompliant plans will be an “opt-in.” After receiving notification from the companies, customers must notify their insurance company if they want to stay in their current plans. Premiums for extended plans, as well as premiums for the new 2014 plans offered through Cover Oregon or directly from carriers, will stay the same.

“This guidance creates a path for providing Oregonians with more options to make the health insurance decision that best meets their needs,” Cali said.

This guidance applies to commercial individual or small group plans that were in effect as of Oct. 1, 2013. These are plans that would otherwise be canceled because they do not meet minimum coverage requirements and financial protections under the Affordable Care Act.

Cali continues to stress that the current plans offered have fewer comprehensive benefits and are not eligible for tax credits for premiums and out-of-pocket costs through Cover Oregon.

“Many people will qualify for financial assistance to buy plans through Cover Oregon with more comprehensive benefits and financial protection available in 2014,” Cali said. “Cover Oregon is processing applications now, and people should send them in as soon as possible for a Jan. 1, 2014 start date.”

Cali also urges people who are currently covered through the public high-risk pool, Oregon Medical Insurance Pool, or commercial portability plans to enroll in Cover Oregon plans. New protections mean that no one can be denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions. The high-risk pool and portability coverage are ending Dec. 31, 2013. The state is working closely with these individuals to ensure they find new coverage.

About 5 percent of all Oregonians buy individual health plans because they are self-employed, unemployed, or their employer doesn’t offer coverage. Roughly 145,000 of these Oregonians will need to shop for new coverage. Most are in plans currently scheduled to end Dec. 31, 2013. Another 193,000 Oregonians are covered by small employer plans that are currently scheduled to end on their renewal date, which may be as early as Dec. 31, 2013.

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The Insurance Division is part of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, Oregon’s largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency.​​

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